Stokes’ Heroic Run-Out Leaves Jadeja Shell-Shocked
On Sunday afternoon, it took Ravindra Jadeja an age to get himself out of the park. The skilful left-hander was run out thanks to a piece of masterful play from Ben Stokes, who tumbled at mid-on to make a diving save and then back-handed the ball at the stumps at the non-striker’s end while still laying on the ground. Jadeja must have had a million gloomy thoughts running through his head as he lumbered into the changing room.
India’s final realistic hope of chasing a mark of 231 had almost vanished with his departure. Even more detrimental in the long run, Jadeja must to have understood that his ability to play the series right away was quite doubtful. Jadeja winced and walked off, almost immediately clutching his left hamstring when the ball dislodged the bails. More than a day passed before the official announcement of his unavailability for India’s second Test match against England in Visakhapatnam on Friday, but even then, it was well known that the left-handed all-rounder would not be involved in the hosts’ first attempt to draw even with the series.
Jadeja’s unique skillset
Three of India’s more seasoned players won’t be available for the second Test. Due to a quadriceps injury, Virat Kohli had already withdrew from the first two matches for personal reasons, and KL Rahul had also joined Jadeja in the hospital. While it is difficult to replace any of the three, Jadeja is the most essential. Because of his overall virtuosity, Jadeja would undoubtedly top any multi-format MVP vote conducted throughout the nation.
A versatile left-hander who has developed tremendously over the last six years as a Test-match willow-wielder, a cunning, crafty left-arm spinner without the frills and drama of, say, a R Ashwin, and a terrier in the field who can, and often has, shaped outcomes with his fielding alone are all combined into the sometimes-underappreciated Saurashtra all-rounder. He has averaged over 40 with the bat and under 25 with the ball in 53 Tests since the start of 2016. He replaced Ashwin as India’s top spinner abroad at that time, which puts his bowling stats in better context. How can India bridge the enormous void in Visakhapatnam? To whom do they turn?
Kuldeep Yadav as a potential replacement
The team that India has reorganized for the next match has three possible “replacements”: Saurabh Kumar, Washington Sundar, and wrist-spinner extraordinaire Kuldeep Yadav. The 29-year-old Kuldeep would have been the starting spinner in most other teams, but since his amazing debut against Australia in Dharamsala seven years ago, Kuldeep has only made eight appearances due to the availability of Ashwin, Jadeja, and Axar Patel, all of whom are more than capable hitters.
at his eight matches, Kuldeep has amassed 34 wickets. In December 2022, during his last Test match against Bangladesh at Chattogram, he was named Player of the Match. It seems sense that he would enter the starting XI to take up the hole left by the injured Jadeja, especially as Chinaman bowlers, or left-arm wrist-spinners, are still uncommon in the five-day format. India will be well advised to go with Kuldeep, who has been outstanding in white-ball cricket for a long time, even if it means giving up a batting option. England will face a new challenge, so they try to extend their faith in the sweep and the reverse sweep because a wrist-spinner presents a whole new dynamic.
The Offensive Weapon India Needs to Chase in Visakhapatnam
Sundar will be the favorite to play his first Test since March 2021 in Ahmedabad against the same opponents, should they insist on batting depth. The 24-year-old’s effectiveness with the ball has decreased to only six wickets in four Test matches, albeit bowling less than 90 overs overall. However, he has three half-centuries, including a career-high 96 not out, and an average of 66.25 in six innings. Will his plenty of Test runs encourage India to ignore his lackluster bowling stats? Hopefully not, since Kuldeep is a far more offensive option and that’s exactly what India needs right now as they have to play catch-up after losing in Hyderabad. Sundar has improved greatly as a bowler since his previous Test.
Although he was in the team that went to Bangladesh, Saurabh has not yet played a Test match but is a reliable rather than exceptionally talented player. He just finished with five wickets for India ‘A’ against the England Lions, and while he has a strong first-class record, it is difficult to imagine him overtaking Kuldeep or Sundar in the selection process. All the evidence leans to Kuldeep, but…